Learning to Listen

Being a good listener is one of the most important attributes you can have as an entrepreneur.  You need to heed some (but definitely not all) of the advice given to you by advisors/mentors/investors, as well as take on feedback from your customers and users.  It is also essential to listen to some of the ideas your team and employees come up with – if you don’t listen properly, you will regret it days/weeks/months down the line when things begin to unravel beneath your feet.

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Influencing People

I have heard the phrase “knowledge is power” (“scientia potentia est” is the original phrase coined in Latin) regularly used throughout my life – at university, in the workplace and even in Hollywood movies.  Never, though, have I felt this phrase to be more appropriate than when applied to behavioural & leadership psychology (or influencing people).

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[IV] The NEF Application Process

In Chapter 3, we explored the process I used to help make the “career change”/transition from engineer to entrepreneur.  This was:

  1. Identifying the skills that I felt I needed in order to work in start-ups/become an entrepreneur – Web development; digital marketing; graphic design to name a few
  2. Acquiring as many of these skills as I could in my spare time* – I built a tech blog (Tech-Boffin.com – now defunct) and a simple, personal landing page (cipavlou.com); had a play with Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools for these sites; went through online tutorials on Inkscape (and created a logo for Tech-Boffin.com)
  3. Continually research the entrepreneurship ecosystem – Speaking with friends, reading about opportunities, etc

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Hiring (and Firing)

Over the course of the last year or so, I have met with, spoken to or been to talks featuring many different CEOs and start-up founders.  I like to ask them about some of the biggest mistakes that they’ve made (in the futile hope that I can learn from them) or what advice they would give to an aspiring/early-stage entrepreneur.  What is interesting is that the answer they all give is almost always the same.
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What Makes a Great Founder?

When people think of great founders, they think of people like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Steve Jobs – people who have this unwavering drive and vision; who can captivate people and lead them on a journey.  However, what made these guys truly successful was the support network they built around themselves – their founding team.  The reality is that it is almost impossible for one person to have all the characteristics of a great founder.  What is possible, however, is having all of these great characteristics shared between yourself and your co-founders.
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The Ingredients of a Successful Start-Up

Since entering the entrepreneurship ecosystem in London, I have been fortunate enough to meet some incredible founders and hear inspiring stories.  What you quickly realise, however, is that every business has a different story and that there is no “one formula for success”.  Furthermore, a lot of the reasons why some of these businesses became successful were actually out of the hands of the founders. Continue reading